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Senior Dog Information Package

Welcome

We are extremely proud of our clinic and of our team of caring and experienced staff. We are committed to excellence in care for our patients and their families. We also are very involved in our community through our popular Junior Vet Program, our Be a Tree program, and our pro bono treatment of injured wildlife.

Please join us on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter to share information on veterinary medicine, and stories about the amazing human animal bond.

Please feel free to call in any time to our knowledgeable staff with any questions or concerns you may have.

We look forward to being your "other family doctor"!

Sincerely,

Bowmanville Veterinary Clinic

Beyond What You See

Both Doctors and Staff have your pet's best interest at heart and strive to make their stay with us as pleasant as possible. We encourage you to accompany your pet to their kennel to allow you the opportunity to see where they will stay and to help them to settle in. Every pet has his or her own separate kennel or run, furnished with a clean, dry, comfy towel or blanket. If your pet has a "special toy” or “security blanket" feel free to bring it in with them.

If your pet is to have a general anesthetic we would like you to know that we minimize the risks by providing exemplary care during their stay. We highly recommend a pre-anesthetic blood screen prior to a general anesthetic. Just as your doctor would run a blood test before your procedure we do the same for your pet. A pre-anesthetic blood test is like an internal physical exam that will check organ function and help identify unknown diseases. For this blood work, we collect a small sample of blood that is sent to an outside lab. Blood work must be submitted at least 24 hours before the procedure.

Veterinarians will do a physical exam the morning of surgery to ensure that your pet is healthy before undergoing general anesthetic. Patients are assessed individually to determine which anesthetics will be safest for them. We have anesthetics available for all ages, from the very young to our senior patients. We also carry anesthetics specific to our work with exotic pets.

The doctors adhere to strict sterile techniques, complete with a cap, mask, sterile gown, and gloves when performing surgery. A separate sterile surgical pack is used for each procedure to avoid infection and cross-contamination. The animals are surgically prepared both at their incision and intravenous sites. This involves first shaving the hair, then cleaning the skin with antibacterial solutions.

Prior to the anesthetic, every animal is placed on intravenous fluids. Intravenous fluids are important to help maintain optimal blood pressure during surgery as well as provide access that will allow us to administer drugs if an anesthetic emergency arises.

While under anesthesia, every pet is connected to a Cardell monitor for carbon dioxide, blood pressure, and heart monitoring. Each pet is provided with a warming blanket to manage its temperature during the anesthetic. As well, our Registered Veterinary Technicians continually assess the animals, during both the anesthetic and recovery periods. During recovery one of our technicians or assistants sit with your pet to comfort them as they recover from the anesthetic.

We are acutely aware of the level of pain of our patients and have very current protocols in place to help manage their pain while in the hospital as well medications for use at home to keep them comfortable.

Uncomplicated surgery cases are discharged the same day. This allows the animal to rest at home, which is usually less stressful for both patient and owner. We do keep some animals overnight if they require bandaging after surgery. We recommend that more complicated cases be transferred to the Animal Emergency Clinic in Whitby for overnight observation.

If you have any questions or would like to tour our facility, please ask any one of our staff members. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome as we attempt to provide the best service possible for you and your pet.

Physical Therapy

How Will Physical Therapy Help My Pet's Pain?

Although it is a new concept in small animal veterinary medicine, physical rehabilitation has played an important role in human medicine for years. Rehab has proven to be very successful in both human and animal recovery. We are proud to offer smlal animal physical rehabilitation through the Bowmanville Veterinary Clinic and look forward to improving the health and happiness of your pet.

To maintain joint health a pet must be constantly bearing weight on that limb and flexing and extending their joints. When an animal suffers from arthritis or injury, they may be reluctant to support weight on one or more limbs, and this can lead to further stiffness and muscle wasting. By effectively manipulating the affected joint(s) in a pain free manner, physical therapy can help to properly lubricate those joints with the body's natural joint fluid. We area lso able to promote muscle growth and help prevent or slow down the formation of scar tissue.

What Are the Benefits of Physical Therapy for Arthritis Patients?

  • Improved function and quality of movement

  • Helps control pain and swelling

  • Increased range of motion, endurance and performance

  • Improved and prolonged quality of life

  • Prevention of other injuries

  • Increased muscle mass and strength

  • Decreased need for long term medications

  • Improved preservation of muscle, nerve, and joint function

How often does my pet need to come in for physical therapy?

Physical therapy always begins with an initial assessment of your pet in which we measure muscle mass, joint flexibility, gait, body condition, etc. From here we will create a specific treatment protocol for your pet. Many of the exercises we do can be easily implemented at home. You may be surprised how much your friend will enjoy these activities. The initial assesssment usually takes approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. After this initial appointment we recommend a follow up every two weeks to make sure joint flexibility (also called range of motion), muscle mass, etc. Once your pet is showing consistent progress, these appointments will gradually decrease while the at home exercises continue.

What Can You Expect?

We have now had the experience of treating many dogs and some cats with physical therapy. The feed back from our clients has been very positive. The difference that therapy can make should not be underestimated. For man pets physical therapy alone, or in coordination with other arthritis treatments, can significantly improve quality of life.

Arthritis

What is Arthritis?

The word arthritis is a generic term referring to many different types of conditions in the joint. When the therm arthritis is used it commonly refers to osteoarthritis (OA), which is also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD). Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and studies indicate that it occurs in 20% of dogs over 1 year of age.

Understanding Canine Osteoarthritis

A healthy joint consists of cartilage that covers and protects the ends of the bones in a joint. The cartilage has no nerves and in a normal joint when cartilage rotates on the cartilage of another bone, the dog feels no pain. However, arthritis causes the cartilage to wear away. This exposes the bones, which have many nerves. When two bones touch each other, your dog feels pain. This pain can greatly affect your dog's quality of life, although dogs tend to be very quiet about displaying their pain.

Early Treatment of Canine Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis can be managed much more successfully when it is diagnosed and treated early in the process. Some owners will proactively start joint supplements or joint support diets in working or active dogs.

The Risk Factors of Canine Osteoarthritis

Dogs of any age or breed can develop osteoarthritis and there are certain risk factors you should be aware of including:

  1. Breed size - large or giant breeds have a higher incidence of arthritis

  2. Age - arthritis is more common in older dogs

  3. Weight - overweight dogs are more prone to arthritis

  4. Breed inherited traits and conformation - which can lead to arthritis because of hip dysplasia or elbow dysplasia changes in the joint

Overweight Dogs

Studies have shown that weight loss alone can significantly improve comfort in dogs with OA. Joints that area laready sore and stressed are made worse when they have to support extra weight. Ease of activities such as climbing stairs, jumping into a car or truck or getting up from a sitting position can improve dramatically with weight loss. If your dog has a Body Condition Score over 6/9 you should consider weight loss for your pet.

There are a number of very good weight loss diets available. Royal Canin Satiety Support is a low calorie diet that contains ingredients designed to help your pet feel full, maintain lean muscle mass, help with skin and coat and also contains Glucosamine/Chondroitin to help improve joint function. It comes in a dry and canned formula. We would be happy to develop a weight loss program to help achieve weight loss and ultimately improve the comfort of your pet.

Other options for weight loss include: Hills Metabolic and Royal Canin Calorie Control diets. Hills also makes a combination weight loss and joint support food.

Exercise

Just like in people exercise is vital for weight loss. Exercise helps increase the resting metabolic rate and burns more calories while maintaining or improving muscle tone. The most successful weight loss programs are combined with good exercise programs.

Controlled exercise is invaluable in treatment for patients with osteoarthritis. This can help improve function and reduce pain, by using the "move it or lose it" principle. Please see our additional exercise sheet.

Joint Support Diets

Royal Canin Mobility is a veterinary diet that is specially formulated to help improve joint health and reduce joint pain in the canine patient. It contains green lipped muscle, omega fatty acids and glucosamine/chondroitin all ingredients that support joint health. It is also moderate in calories to help maintain weight. Please see the diet brochure.

This is the diet that Bowmanville Veterinary Staff reach for with their older active dogs and many of us use it proactively as our pets become seniors. Other options for joint support diets include Hills J/D and Hills Metabolic/Joint. (See brochures)

Nutraceuticals

Nutraceuticals are nutritional supplements and are believed to have a positive influence on the cartilage health in the joint. Many people will have heard of Glucosamine and Chondroitin which are products that have been available for humans for many years. Using products that contain these natural ingredients may help but we have found products that contain more than these two ingredients to be more valuable.

There are many products available as joint supplements. At Bowmanville Veterinary Clinic we will only stock/sell products that have been proven by scientific studies. Some products on the market have anecdotal reports that they work, which is supportive great, but we want to know the products we sell also have evidence based scientific studies to support them. The other criteria that must be met before we considerbringing a nutraceutical to our shelves is something called the NN number. Unfortunately some nutraceuticals have inconsistent delivery of ingredients so you may not be getting what you pay for. Products that carry a NN number mean they haveb een certified to meet safety and quality criteria. When a product contains only approved ingredients which are safe or low risk they can be assigned a NN number. For you and your pet the NN on the package is proof tha tthe manufacturer meets adequate standards for these types of products.

Flexadin Plus - our number one nutraceutical for joint support is Flexadin Plus. It has scientific studies and is NN certified. This product contains Glucosamine, Chondroitin, Omega fatty acids and Devlis Claw. Devils Claw is a naturally occuring anti-inflammatory. Many of our canine patients have started with this product and owners have found a very positive iprovement in their dog's comfort and flexibility. Remember it is very important as your dog ages to encourage exercise to control weight and maintain flexibility. We need to keep them moving.

Results can often be seen within days. The same company that makes Flexadin Plus also manufactures Flexadin Advanced. This prodcut uses UCII collagen, a very advanced ingredient that is widely used in human medicine. This product works with the immune system to help maintain joint integrity. It can take up to three months to see the maximum benifits of this product. One big advantage of Flexadin Advanced is that you only need to feed one chew regardless of the size of your dog.

Flexadin Plus and Flexadin Advanced have a palpability guarantee so if your pet does not approve of the taste they are fully refundable. This company also offers a "buy six get one free" loyalty program (see brochure).

We also carry Dasuquin by Nutramax another scientifically studied and NN certified product that has been widely used in the U.S. for years. This is a good alternative to Flexadin if your pet does not like the taste of Flexadin.

NSAIDs

The term NSAID refers to Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug, a class of drugs that are used to treat the pain and inflammation caused by arthritis. One of the most common NSAIDs used in people is ASA but since dogs are much more sensitive to NSAIDs than humans aspirin can cause unwanted side effects such as stomach upset or irritation to intestines and ca lead to vomiting and diarrhea, stomach ulcers and possibly more serious side effects. NSAIDs specifically formulated for dogs were introduced in the 1990s. These NSAIDs work more effectively for dogs than aspirin while minimizing side effects in the internal organs. These drugs have changed and provided improved quality of life for millions of dogs living with the chronic pain of osteoarthritis. NSAIDs do have side effects we must consider. Kidney, liver, or gastrointestinal conditions must be assessed to make sure your dog is able to metabolize and excrete the medication. A complete history, physical exam and blood work are necessary prior ti initiating NSAIDs along with periodic follow-up blood work as recommended by our veterinarians.

Metacam (Meloxicam) is our number one NSAID of choice. It comes in a flavoured liquid that can be given directly or mixed in to food. We also like this product because it can be reduced to what we call a lowest effective dose i.e. the least amount of drug needed to still provide pain management and improved quality of life (see brochure).

There are a number of other NSAIDs available to use if Metacam is not giving the desired results. For our very arthritic patients it may become necessary to prescribe drugs to use in conjunction with nutraceuticals and NSAIDs. Drugs commonly used for pain management in humans are now approved in dogs. The most commonly used adjunct drugs are Tramadol and Gabapentin. These are sometimes used alone if a pet is not able to safely use an NSAID.

DMOAD- Disease Modifying Osteoarthritis Drugs

There are injections available to retard the progression of arthritis by stimulating production of lubricant and cartilage in the joint. Examples are Cartrophen or Adequan.

The treatment starts with a series of four injections given a week apart. After the initial series the treatment usually consists of one injection per month. Injections are given at the veterinary clinic, along with treats to distract your dog (see brochure).

Alternative therapies - there are many exciting opportunities in this area for additional resources such as physical therapy - is done here, acupuncture, massage, chiropractics, etc. Please ask for our list if interested.

As you can see, there are now many options to help prevent pain and improve the quality of life of dogs affected by Osteoarthritis.

Caring for Your Senior Dog

It may be hard to believe that at 7 years of age your pet is moving into their senior years. Although they may still seem young in appearance, there are physical changes occurring within their body that can affect your pet's health. We would like to take the opportunity to inform you of some of the changes that may occur as your pet becomes older. By being aware and educated about the changes that may occur, you can help your pet enjoy an active and healthy senior life. Some of these changes can include:

Metabolic changes - as animals age the metabolic rate slows and nutrition requirements change. Older animals can require different proportions of minerals and an easily digestible, but not excessively high, protein source. Older dogs can also be more susceptible to dietary upsets, sh as vomiting or diarrhea. Proper nutrition plays a very important role in senior health. Our veterinarians will make recommendations appropriate to your pet's needs.

Dental Disease - oral health is important at all stages of your pet's life, but especially as your pet ages. Dental disease is one of the most common diseases our veterinarians diagnose. Dental cleanings should be done before advanced gingivitis or periodontal disease is present, as these conditions are painful and can cause further health problems.

The stage of your dog's dental disease will be determined at his/her health check. Dental cleanings and treatment will be recommended based on their oral health. It is now scientifically established that good oral health can lengthen your pet's life by several years.

Musculoskeletal System - osteoarthritis is the most common musculoskeletal problem and can cause significant discomfort as it progresses. Please let us know if you notice any stiffness or slowing down in your pet. There are many steps that you can take to help your pet stay comfortable as their joints age. We have an information packet that deals specifically with arthritis in your dog; please let us know if you would like one.

Heart Disease - the heart is a powerful organ made of specialized muscle tissue. As your pet ages their heart may become damaged. This damage may result in heart disease or failure. Signs of heart disease can include coughing, lack of energy, shortness of breath, weight loss or exercise intolerance. Early detection is vital for detecting and managing heart disease.

Kidney Disease - is one of the most common medical problems of older pets. The kidneys filter and remove waste materials from the blood and help regulate body fluids. Kidney disease occurs when the kidneys fail to perform these functions properly and waste materials accumulate in the blood. Signs of kidney disease can include increased drinking and urinating, depression and poor appetite. All pets, especially over the age of seven should be screened routinely for kidney disease - BEFORE signs of illness appear. The progression of the disease can often be slowed by something as easy as a diet change.

Thyroid Disease - in dogs the incidence of hypothyroidism increases from middle age on. Signs of thyroid disease include listlessness, weight gain or sluggish weight loss, poor hair coat, loss of hair and sometimes lameness. Early detection and treatment of thyroid disease cansignificantly improve quality of life and is as easy as a blood test to diagnose.

Diabetes - diabetes mellitus is a condition that develops when your pet cannot use sugar (glucose) effectively and cannot control the sugar levels in the blood. Insulin, which is made in the panceras, isessential for regulating the use and storage of blood glucose. Insufficient insulin production is life threatening. Diabetes is more common in middle aged, overweight dogs. Signs of diabetes include weight loss, excessive drinking and urinating. Diabetes can be readily detected on routine wellness blood work.

Skin and Coat - you may notice that your pet's coat is becoming dull and lusterless or that they are losing hair. This happens over time as the hair follicles age. Older animals also tend to have more tumors of the skin than younger animals. Early detection of malignant tumors can allow for early treatment, which in turn can significantly prolong your pet's life.

Eyesight - as your dog ages the probability of vision loss incerases. Some of the common causes of declining eyesight include: catract, glaucoma, lens luxation and corneal disease. Part of your pet's physical exam includes a thorough eye exam.

Hearing - over time the receptor organ in the ear degenerates, causing a gradual loss of hearing. Please let us know if you notice hearing loss in your pet.

Liver Disease - the liver is an important organ with many functions, including the digestion and conversion of nutrients and the removal of toxic substances from the blood. Senior pets have a higher incidence of liver disease. Early detection through wellness blood screening can significantly improve the management and limit the progression of liver disease. The signs of liver disease can include decreased appetite, vomiting and diarrhea, increased thirst and jaundice. Consult the clinic immediately if your pet is not eating.

Cognitive Dysfunction - this condition is felt to be caused by physical and chemical changes in the brain. Owners often feel their pet is just getting old when they are less responsive or confused but they may be experiencing signs of Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS). There is a remarkable food called Hills B/D (brain diet) that has shown great results for CDS dogs as well as drug therapy to help this disease. Please do not assume that your dog is just getting old, speak to our doctors about their behaviour to determine that they may be dealing with Cognitive Dysfunction.

How to Tell if Your Dog Is in Pain

Dogs feel pain in the same way and for many of the same reasons as humans; infections, dental problems, arthritis, bone disease and cancer. They also feel discomfort following surgical procedures. Unfortunately, unlike humans, they are unable to speak to us about when and where they hurt.

You are in the best position to look for the subtle changes in behavior that may indicate your dog is suffering. It is important to stay alert to these signs, because the sooner your dog's pain is diagnosed and treated, the sooner he or she can heal and resume a normal, happy life.

If your dog shows one or more of the following behaviors and you suspect it may be due to pain, please notify us immediately.

VOCALIZING

  • Whining

  • Howling

  • Whimpering

  • Yelping

  • Groaning

  • Grunting

ACTIVITY LEVEL

  • Restless

  • Reluctant to move

  • Difficulty getting up from a laying position

  • Repetitively gets up and lies down

  • Trembling, circling, or lying very still

  • Seeks more affection than usual

SELF-PROTECTION

  • Protects a body part

  • Doesn't put weight on a limb

  • Limps

  • Doesn't want to be held or picked up

  • Hides

DAILY HABITS

  • Decreased appetite

  • Withdraws from social interaction

  • Changes in sleeping or drinking

  • Lapses in housetraining

  • Sleeps more

SELF MUTILATION

  • Licking

  • Biting

  • Scratching a particular part of its body

GROOMING

  • Coat lacks normal shine

  • Hair stands up in places

FACIAL EXPRESSION

  • Grimaces, vacant stare

  • Glazed, wide-eyed or looks sleepy

  • Enlarged Pupils

  • Flattened ears

  • Pants excessively when at rest

AGGRESSIVE (especially a previously friendly dog)

  • Acts out of character

  • Growls, hisses, bites

  • Pins ears back

  • A normally aggressive dog may act quiet, docile

POSTURE

  • Hunched, with hindquarters raised and front end down on the ground

  • Lays in a different position than usual

Vaccinations for Dogs

Canine Distemper

Distemper is a serious viral disease affecting primarily oung, unvaccinated dogs. Clinical signs may include a yellowish or greenish discharge from the eyes or nose, coughing, difficulty breathing, increased body temperature, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, nervous system disorder (twitching of a limb, seizures, etc.), and hardening of the foot pads.

Distemper is a highly contagious disease. All body excretions and secretions (discharge from the eyes or nose, vomitus, diarrhea, urine) may carry the infection. The virus can also be carried by air currents and on inanimate objects such as food bowls.

Prevention of this disease is extremely important, as distemper is often fatal. Even if a dog survives the disease, distemper can permanently damage the dog's nervous system and sense of smell, sight, and sound. Vaccination has been shown to prevent the disease.

Canine Parvovirus

Parvovirus is a serious sisease affecting primarily young dogs (6 weeks to 6 months of age) although any age can be affeted. The breeds at highest risk include Rottweiller, Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd and Pit bull.

Parvovirus is a hardy virus, able to withstand extreme temperature changes and exposure to most disinfectants. Dogs contact parvovirus through exposure to infected dogs or infected stools.

Parvovirus attacks the gastrointestinal tract, causing affected dogs to lose their appetite, become lethargic and show evidence of vomiting, diarrhea, or both. The diarrhea is often bloody and has a foul odour (that of digested blood). Some dogs develop fever. Left untreated parvovirus can be fatal.

The disease is very serious and can bevery expensive to treat. Vaccination against this highly contagious viral disease has been proven to be very successful in preventing this diseases (or lessening its severity).

Rabies

Rabies is a viral disease that attacks the central nervous system of all warm blooded animals, including humans. Rabies is transmitted by saliva, which is usually transferred by a bite form an infected animal. The disease is frequently found in wild animals such as skunks, foxes, raccoons, and bats.

Once infected, the disease is fatal. Prior to death, clinical signs may include a change in behaviour (e.g. increased aggressiveness or increased shyness), dialation of the pupils, excess salivation, snapping at the air, a shifting gait and fatal twitching.

As the virus can be transmitted to humans, no stray dog, cat or wild animal should ever be approached. Wild animals should never be kept as pets. Your pet should be kept on its own property or leashed shen off its property. To help prevent raccoon rabies, it is recommended that you cap chimneys, close up any holes in attics or outbuildings and make sure that stored garbage does not act as a food source. Vaccination is important to safeguard your dog from rabies.

Some veterinarians recommend vaccinating every year, while others recommend a three-year vaccine. Talk to your veterinarian about the degree of risk for rabies in your area and about which vaccine will provide your pet with the protection it requires.

Canine Kennel Cough

Clinical signs of kennel cough include dry, hacking cough and, in some dogs, nasal discharge, loss of appetite and difficulty breathing. Kennel cough is highly contagious and is spread through sneezing, coughing, and contact with infected nasal secretions. Kennel cough is most commonly transmitted when dogs are put in close proximity to one another; for example, dog shows, boarding kennels, groomers, etc. In most cases, kennel cough lasts 7-10 days and dogs recover fully from it. In some cases antibiotics are necessary. If your dog is on the show circuit or spends time in a boarding facility, vaccination may be recommended. Speak to your veterinarian about your dog's risk of exposure and need for this vaccine.

Infectious Canine Hepatitis

Infectious canine hepatitis is a viral disease that is most common in young, vaccinated dogs (9-12 weeks). Clinical signs may include respiratory tract abnormalities (discharge from nose or eyes, coughing) or evidence of liver and/or kidney disease (jaundice, loss of appetite, vomiting, change in drinking and urinating behaviour). Occasionally, an affected dog develops a "blue eye" (comeal ederna).

Infectious canine hepatitis is spread by conact with urine from an infected dog. Prevention by vaccination is the key as canine hepatitis is often fatal. It is not contagious to people.

Canine Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is a disease that impairs kidney function and may cause kidney failure. Liver disease is also common. Clinical signs may include loss of appetite, lethargy, jaundice, vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures. There are a number of different types of leptospira that may cause the disease. Wild and domestic animals (cattle, pigs, dogs) may act as reservoirs for infection. The disease is transmitted by contact with the urine of infected animals. Stagnat or slow-moving water may provide a suitable habitat for the organism to thrive. Leptospirosis is not common in most areas of Ontario. As the available vaccines do not protect against all forms of leptospirosis and because the vaccine can cause some significant side effects, talk to your veterinarian about the advantages and disadvantages of vaccinating your dog against this disease.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is caused by a spirochete (Borrelia burgdoferi) and spread by ticks. It is a serious disease in people. Clinical signs in dogs, if they occur, are thought to include lameness, joint swelling, fever, loss of appetite and lethargy. The heart, brain, and kidney may also be affected. Dogs do not generally show the classic red lesion that a human exhibits at teh site ofa tick bite. The diagnosis of Lyme disease is not black and white. If the disease is suspected, your veterinarian may request a blood test to detect antibodies to Borrelia. If this test is positive and your dog has clinical signs suggestive of Lyme disease and a history of travel to a high risk area, antibiotics may be recommended.

Vaccinating for Lyme disease is considered optional by most veterinarians. To assist in the prevention of Lyme disease, use flea and tick sprays and remove any ticks from the animal promptly, if found. This risk of tick exposure can be reduced by keeping your dog on a leash, on trails and out of woodlands and fields. Brushing the pet's coat as soon as the walk is complete is important.

Canine Coronavirus

Canine coronavirus infects on of the layers of the intestinal tract and may lead to vomiting and diarrhea. Infected dogs can spread the virus to other dogs. The overall prevalance of coronavirus is thought to be low and most infections are self-limiting. Vaccination against this virus is available, but not all veterinarians recommend it. Speak to your veterinarian about your dog's risk for developing this viral disease.

Lyme Disease

Borreliosis is a widespread serious disease that can affect dogs, cats, horses, cattle, birds, wild animals and people. White-tailed deer and white-footed mice appear to be natural carriers. The disease is caused by Borrellia burgdorferi, a corkscrew-shaped bacterium. This organism is usually transmitted by the pinhead-sized, dark brown nymphs (immature form) of deer ticks. Other types of ticks may also occasionally transmit this disease.

After the larva hatches from the tick egg, it attaches to small rodents, such as the white-footed mouse. As it feeds on the mouse’s blood, the larva becomes infected with the Borrelia organism. The larva matures into a nymph, which feeds on the blood of animals and people. The Borrelia organism is not injected into the host animal until the tick has been attached for 10-24 hours. Though adult ticks can also spread the disease, the nymph stage poses the greatest threat during the summer months because of its very small size.

Signs of Lyme disease are vague and resemble various other conditions. Initial signs include a rash, fever, joint swelling, pain and swollen lymph nodes. Within days, weeks or even months, more serious signs can develop, such as heart, brain and joint disorders. Painful joint swelling is the most common advanced sign.

A person is unlikely to contract the disease from a pet unless he/she were to remove an unattached tick from the pet and allow the tick to feed on him/her. However, people are certainly at risk of Lyme disease by having a tick jump on them from the environment that they walk through with their pet.

Prevention of Borreliosis

Protect Yourself: For walks in the woods, fields or meadows during the tick season, protect yourself from tick infestation by wearing clothes in a way that prevents ticks from gaining access to your skin. Wear a hat to protect your head.

Close Inspection: Always closely inspect your pet and yourself after walking in the woods, fields or meadows. If you detect any ticks, do not crush the tick’s body during removal. Rather, use tweezers or forceps to grasp the tick’s head as close to your pet’s skin as possible, and gently remove the tick to avoid separation of the tick’s head from it’s body.

Treatment

Treatment for Lyme disease is most successful in the early stages of the disease. Therefore we recommend regularly screening your dog with a simple blood test at least yearly. If a known tick bite has occurred, the dog should have the blood test done 1 month and 4 months after the bite.

Canine Cough

Canine Cough (also called tracheobronchitis, or formerly, kennel cough) is an upper-respiratory infection much like the human cold. It is a highly contagious disease than can cause severe throat irritation and coughing in dogs. This disease is primarily caused by two airborne organisms (bordatella bronchiseptica and parainfluenza virus).

Your pet may contact canine cough almost anywhere:

  • in the park

  • on the street

  • obedience class

  • the groomer

  • at a kennel

  • dog shows

Know the Symptoms of Canine Cough

  • coughing

  • sneezing

  • retching

  • nasal discharge

Chronic cough can keep both you and your dog up all night. Extremely old, young or immunocompromised dogs can be at risk of secondary pneumonia. Puppies can be particularly threatened by canine cough as it may stunt the development of the lungs, affecting the lung capacity of the dog for life.

Vaccination

Canine cough vaccines are available as a safe, oral (by mouth) vaccine or by injection. The oral vaccine is normally used in puppies and is easy to give alongside a treat. There is an intra-nasal vaccine but most dogs do not tolerate this very well. This vaccine can be part of your dog’s yearly vaccination program to help build immunity to this disease (specifically to bordatella bronchiseptica). The routine yearly vaccines currently given to your dog by your veterinarian already include parainfluenza, the other primary organism causing canine cough. Together, these vaccines will provide better than 80% protection against canine cough for your dog (much like our “flu shots” helps protect us. Imagine if we could do this for our common cold!

Most kennels and groomers, obedience classes and dog shows require that dogs be fully vaccinated for canine cough (along with routine yearly vaccines). The Bowmanville Veterinary Clinic also requires that your dog be vaccinated for canine cough prior to boarding with us. The intra-nasal vaccine may be given as little as 3 days prior to boarding due to the swift effectiveness of the vaccine.

We recommend yearly vaccination for canine cough along with the other core vaccines. Dogs that are continually in high risk situations, such as dog shows and boarding should be boostered every 6 months.

Please call our office for more information.

Parasites & Your Dog

Our clinic’s mission statement is “Excellence in Care for Pets and Their Families”. One of the ways we strive to provide excellence in care is through client education.

We attended a conference in January of 2020 discussing the increasing presence of ticks in Canada, and thought we should share this information with you.

There are a number of parasitic diseases that are of concern in Southern Ontario. These are internal parasites such as roundworm, hookworm, whipworm, heartworm and giardia, and external parasites such as ticks, fleas and mosquitoes. The most potentially impactful of these parasites over the last several years is ticks, more specifically the Black Legged or Deer tick that can carry Lyme disease and Anaplasmosis. In dogs, Lyme disease is the most common, and can cause problems with the joints and kidneys, but if caught early, can often be helped with treatment.

What To Do If You Find a Tick on Your Dog

  1. Use tweezers to grasp the tick by its mouthparts closest to the skin and pull gently away from, and out of the dog.

  2. Do not use your hands to remove tick since this may squish the body of the tick and encourage it to regurgitate its digestive contents into the animal, which would then increase the chance of disease transmission. Also many of the diseases transmitted from ticks can be passed to humans, so using a tweezer and plastic disposable gloves will minimize this risk.

  3. Do not stun the tick with alcohol first since this may encourage the tick to regurgitate into the animal and increases the potential risk of transmission of disease.

  4. Once the tick is out, please dispose of it in a small jar of rubbing alcohol to kill it and the diseases it may contain. Squishing it to kill it can cause dispersal of diseases, so this is discouraged. You can also use regular alcohol like rum or scotch in a pinch.

  5. Ideally a 4DX blood test should be performed on your dog 1 month after a tick bite, and again 4 months after a tick bite. This will check for any transmission of disease. However, testing will depend on if your dog has been on a preventative tick medication and if your dog has been vaccinated against Lyme disease, so will be discussed with you to determine the best approach for your dog.

The Gold Standard for Parasite Control in Ontario Dogs

  • Current physical exam- must have been seen within the year to dispense prescription products

  • Remove/avoid tall grass and leaf piles to minimize tick environment

  • Fecal Analysis yearly

  • 4DX blood test yearly along with wellness testing to screen for organ disease

  • Simparica Trio chew (orally every month year-round) unless your dog eats rodents in which case we recommend regular Simparica and Interceptor Plus monthly.

  • Lyme vaccine

  • Praziquantel treatment monthly for dogs who hunt and/or would eat mice or other small rodents.

Lyme disease incidence has significantly increased in southern Ontario over the last several years. Dogs can be carrying Lyme disease and not be showing clinical signs, therefore testing is very important. Anaplasmosis is much less common, but can cause fever, muscle pain, and serious changes in the blood. Fortunately, it is a treatable disease if caught early.

The tick population in southern Ontario is rapidly increasing. The best approach to tick borne disease’s is to treat for ticks before they can transmit the disease. Ticks start to look for a blood meal when it is above the freezing mark (0 degrees Celcius). Therefore during our increasingly mild winters, each month can have a period of time where ticks could be active. The white-tailed deer is an important part of the Black Legged tick’s life cycle. Areas where there is an established deer population would have more concerns for Lyme disease. However, other intermediate hosts for the Black Legged or Deer Tick can include mice, rabbits, raccoons, and coyotes. These animals can come into our suburban areas and can therefore bring ticks carrying Lyme and other diseases into our backyards. Even birds flying overhead can drop ticks into our back yards, meaning that even dogs that do not go out for a lot of walks in wilder areas are still potentially at risk.

Many of the parasite increases that we are seeing in Ontario can be attributed to climate change. There is truly a benefit to the cold Canadian winters we used to have, since many parasites cannot survive severe cold. It has been noted that by 2050 with our current rate of climate change, our climate here in Southern Ontario is predicted to resemble that of Tennessee. Apparently southern Ontario also has a “mosaic” countryside (lots of fields with woods interspersed in between), which is exactly the environment that ticks enjoy. When combining this with decreased pesticide use in Ontario, warmer winters, and a thriving white tail deer population, it is understandable how the tick population and risk of Lyme disease is increasing dramatically.

For a number of years, we have been recommending parasite treatment year-round as our gold standard for dogs and outdoor cats. This recommendation is now stronger than ever, because ticks and their associated disease risks, continue to increase in southern Ontario.

We are recommending Simparica Trio this year, a tasty once-a-month tablet given 12 months of the year. Simparica Trio provides extremely effective control of the higher risk parasites in Ontario including, fleas, ticks, roundworm, hookworm, lungworm and heartworm.

If your dog is indoors virtually all of the time, and only goes out to urinate and defecate, then you could potentially use Sentinel without Simparica as your year-round parasite control program, since your dog will be at lower risk for ticks. However, it is rare to have a dog at no risk for acquiring ticks, simply due to the fact that almost all dogs go outside to eliminate, and birds can fly into your yard and drop tick onto the grass.

And please don’t forget the human risk of Lyme disease. In general, more mature ticks will attach more readily onto dogs, and the younger, smaller nymph form will attach onto humans. If a tick latches on to us for a blood meal, then we are also potentially at risk for Lyme disease and other diseases as well. Please be sure to contact your physician if you find a tick attached to you, and of course let us know if you find a tick on your dog.

And finally ticks can also occur on cats. Luckily cats are relatively resistant to tick borne diseases (unlike humans and dogs). But if you do not like having your outdoor cat getting tick bites and potentially bringing ticks into the house please call to discuss tick prevention options for cats, since we have some excellent ones.

There has also been an increase in the population of the Texas Lone Star tick in southern Ontario, although luckily these are far less common than the ticks that carry Lyme disease. The Texas Lone Star Tick carries Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, which is a potentially fatal disease in dogs if untreated, and can affect humans as well. It can also carry Ehrlichia, which can cause some dangerous changes in the blood, and although treatable, it is never completely eliminated from the body. Simparica Trio is recognized as the most effective tick control for the Texas Lone Star Tick out of all currently available tick products.

With respect to other parasites, studies have shown dogs can be carriers of raccoon roundworm (Baylisascaris), a parasite which can be dangerous and even life threatening to humans, especially children. Simparica Trio and Sentinel are highly effective against this roundworm. Other internal parasites such as Giardia or Coccidia must be diagnosed through analyzing the stool (feces) of the dog at least once per year. A tapeworm, Echinococcus Multilocularis is present in a high percentage of coyotes, foxes and wolves in Ontario and is starting to show up in our domestic dogs. It is a serious risk to humans. If your dog is an eater of rodents (the intermediate host of Echinococcus) then we recommend using regular Simparica and Interceptor Plus combo monthly to help prevent this infection, along with ticks, fleas, roundworm, hookworm, lungworm and heartworm.

We must not forget that heartworm disease is still present in Canada, with southern Ontario having the highest density of cases. Rescue dogs that were brought to Canada after hurricane Katrina, and that continue to be brought in from warmer climates, unfortunately can contribute to our heartworm problem, since many are not properly treated prior to arrival. The wild dog population (i.e. coyotes) can also harbor heartworms and can spread the disease. As you may know, heartworm disease is spread by mosquitoes. With our mild winters, we are seeing mosquitoes much earlier than before, with a resulting longer season where heartworm is transmissible. This is another reason to administer year-round Simparica Trio or Sentinel.

We are fortunate to have a vaccine against Lyme disease, if you wish to be very certain your dog is protected. Humans are not so lucky yet, although there are potential vaccines on the horizon for us. There is currently no vaccine for Ehrlichia or Anaplasmosis, but if caught early these diseases can be helped with treatment.

We recommend a yearly blood test for every dog called the 4DX test. This test screens for heartworm disease, Lyme disease, Ehrlichia and Anaplasmosis, it is recommended as our gold standard once yearly even if your dog is not showing any signs of problems, since all of these diseases can hide for periods of time before causing clinical signs.

Fleas

Life Cycle

The flea life cycle ranges from 16 days to 1 year. The female lays her eggs on the pet following a blood meal, and may lay several hundred eggs in her lifetime. These eggs fall off the pet to contaminate bedding, floors, carpets, etc. and the outside environment. Eggs hatch in approximately 7 days and the larvae eat organic debris (mostly adult flea feces). After 4 to 14 days they form a pupa and in as little as 14 or more days the pupa hatch in response to vibration and higher carbon dioxide levels in the household or environment.

The adult flea represents only a small percentage of the population in your home and environment as adults only live for 7 to 17 days. The majority of the flea population that will be in your home is in the egg, larval and pupal stages.

Fortunately, only 5% of a flea infestation is on your pet……Unfortunately, the other 95% is in your home!

5% of fleas are typically present as adults on the pet and begin laying eggs 24-48 hours after finding a host.

95% of fleas are present as developing adults (50% eggs, 35% larvae and 10% pupae) and they can be found on your sofa, bed, carpets and other places throughout your home. They can continue to hatch out for up to one year. Therefore, treating a flea infestation can take up to one year.

Treating Your Pet

Simparica (Tablets) - Our #1 Choice for Flea and Tick Prevention

  • Kills fleas and ticks

  • A tasty chewable tablet given every month; year round

  • Comes in a package of 3 chews

  • Broadest tick coverage on label

Read product insert for full instructions and cautions

Sentinel (Tablets) (Dogs Only) - Our #2 Choice for Flea Prevention (and Intestinal Parasites) in Dogs

  • Prevents flea infestation and heartworm disease by killing the flea egg and also the immature form of heartworm in the bloodstream

  • Helps keep intestinal parasites under control

  • The pet must have a negative heartworm test before giving the tablets, and should be tested yearly after that

  • Give 1 tablet on the same day each month (with a full meal) year round to prevent fleas, heartworm, and intestinal parasites

  • If you are taking your pet south in the winter please contact our office about requirements for flea and heartworm prevention

  • All pets in the household must be treated

Read product insert for full instructions and cautions

Revolution (Topical) - Our #1 Choice for Flea Prevention in Cats

  • Prevents flea infestation, heartworm disease, ear mites and a treatment of some internal and external parasites

  • Apply contents of 1 tube onto the skin at the base of the neck between the shoulder blades once monthly year round

  • Breaks the flea life cycle at 3 stages… effective against adult fleas, eggs and larvae

  • For the treatment and control of ear mites in cats and dogs

  • Has been proven safe for adult dogs and cats as well as breeding dogs and cats and puppies and kittens six weeks of age or older

  • Bathing or shampooing will not affect the product as long as bathing is done at least two hours after applying

  • The fur should be dry when Revolution is applied

  • Your dog must have a negative heartworm test before applying, and should be tested yearly after that

  • All pets in the household must be treated

Read product insert for full instructions and cautions

Advantage Multi (Topical) - for Treatment/Control (Dogs and Cats)

  • Once monthly topical application for dogs and cats

  • For the treatment and control of roundworms and hookworms in cats and dogs

  • An aid in the treatment and control of the adult stage of whipworms in dogs

  • Heartworm prevention in cats and dogs

  • Your dog must have a negative heartworm test before applying and should be treated yearly after that

  • Proven flea portection in dogs and cats (remains on the skin to kill adult fleas fast with no biting required)

  • For the treatment and control of ear mites in cats and dogs

  • For the treatment and control of sarcoptic mange mites in dogs

  • An aid in the treatment and control of generalized demodectic mange in dogs

  • Shampooing or bathing 90 minutes after treatment does not reduce effectiveness in heartworm prevention

  • All pets in the household must be treated

Read product insert for full instructions and cautions

Advantage (Topical) for Treatment/Prevention (Dogs and Cats)

  • Once monthly topical liquid for dogs or cats which distributes on the surface of theskin at teh hair root level to kill adult fleas on contact

  • Apply direclty to the skin on the back of the neck, or in the case of large dogs also along the back

  • All pets in the household must be treated

  • Shampooing of the pet may shorten the duration of the flea proteciton, therefore, re-apply after shampooing

  • If re-treatment is necessary earlier than the four weeks, do not re-treat more than once weekly

  • Do not use on nursing animals or pets under 8 weeks of age

Read product insert for full instrucitons and cautions

Capstar (tablets) for Treatment (Dogs and Cats)

  • Oral tablet

  • Kills adult fleas starting within 15 minutes, kills 98% of adult fleas on the pet within 6 hours, 100% within 24 hours

  • Works by interfering with the nerve transmission of the flea

  • Use twice weekly until you no longer see adult fleas

  • May be used as often as daily if required, does not affect your pet or humans

  • Capstar does not stay in the body for more than 24 to 48 hours

  • May be used in puppies and kittens over 5 weeks of age and 1kg body weight

Read product insert for full instructions and cautions

If you have any questions about the products we recommend or about "store bought" products, please don't hesitate to contact our office.

Choosing the Best Nutrition for Your Pet

Superior nutrition is as critical for pets as it is for people. It is important that your pet receives the benefit of a scientifically bases diet for optimal health. With so many different options available, choosing the right food fo ryou dog or cat can be a challenge.

A nutritional expert was recently quoted as saying, "there are three things that can influence how long your pet will live: heredity, environment, and nutrition. The one that owners can influence most is what they choose to feed their pet." Your veterinary team is the best source for accurate information about nutrition for your pet. We have your pet's medical history and can work with you in choosing the appropriate diet, the amounts to feed, and can monitor your pet's response to their new diet.

Our veterinarians, registered veterinary technicians, and support staff are continously updating their knowledge of diets and nutrition. The diets we recommend are produced in processing facilities that have advanced safety standards and have had feeding trials performed. Feeding trials are the gold standard to determine how a pet will perform when fed a specific food.

Do not be misled by marketing tools that have no science or testing behind them. Recently there has been an influx of "natural", "organic", or "holistic" doc and cat foods to choose from. Unfortunately, most people are not aware of the lack of science behind these claims.

For example:

Organic - There is a myth that the terms natural and organic are interchangeable. This is not true. True organic foods must comply with Agri-Food Canada's very strict regulations. This is an expensive process and there are few if any truly organic pet foods available.

Natural -The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) regulates pet food in the USA, but unfortunately in Canada this is only used as a guideline, and is not a requirement.

Holistic - There is no legal definition of this term in pet foods. Any manufacturer can make claims of "holistic" in their literature (including web sites) regardless of diet content. Unfortunately it means nothing.

Human Grade - Claims that a product contains ingredients that are human-grade quality. It can be a misleading term since there is no policing of pet food content to ensure this is in fact so.

Things to consider when choosing a new diet:

Ingredients - Ingredients are listed in descending order by weight. Generally meats are listed first as they contain a lot of water and therefore weight more. The ingredient list is not nearly as important as the quality and nutritional value of each individual ingredient.

Guaranteed Analysis - This is the list of ingredients on the side of the bag of food provided as a guide to consumers. It is virtually impossible to compare foods by using the guaranteed analysis. It is the nutritional value of each ingredient blended together that delivers a product specific for a pet's age or condition. You could do a guaranteed analysis on an old leather boot that would compare to the guaranteed analysis of some pet foods. Obviously an old leather boot is not a digestible item, but unfortunately digestibility is not listed on the label.

"All" Life Stage Diets - Although they sound convenient, most of these diets are formulated for puppies since they have the highest nutritional requirements. However a diet like this should not be used for mature or senior dogs, as they can be dangerously high in protein if an older dog is starting to have kidney trouble, and are also not properly balanced in calories and minerals.

By Products - Foods that list by-products are not necessarily inferior products. By-products are commonly used in both human and pet foods and can include nutrient rich organ meats, ground bones, skin, and som emeat. It does not include beaks, feet, and feathers as some people are led to believe. By-products are simply ingredients produced in the making of something else (i.e. when Vitamin E is extracted from soybeans the soybean meal that is left over is a highly nutritious by-product.)

Formulated vs. Feeding Trials - If a pet food label states that the food is "formulated" for a specific life stage it indicates that it is unlikely to have had a feeding trial done. Feeding trials are the Gold Standard for determining nutritional adequacy; therefore we sell only foods that have had feeding trials done i.e. veterinary diets made by Royal Canin and Hills.

The Corn Myth and Grain Free Diets - Recently foods with corn as a carbohydrate ingredient have been getting negative reviews. It is important to know that corn, as it is provided in high quality foods such as the veterinary Royal Canin diet is one of the best sources of grain protein, omega fatty acids, and antioxidants. Corn causes no more allergies in pets than other grains. Grains can be an excellent source of nutrition for omnivores like dogs. Grain free diets that are marketed frequently use potatoes as their source of carbohydrate, since carbohydrates are a necessary component of a well-balanced canine diet.

Safety - The veterinary diets that we recommend, Royal Canin and HIlls, have a very rigorous screening requirement to assure the safety and quality of their ingredients. Royal Canin diets use a high tech spectrophotometer to test each ingredient before they are allowed to enter the plant. A recent study indicated that little has been done to improve the safety of many other pet foods on the Canadian market.

Raw Diets - There has been an abundance of unsubstantiaed information regarding alternative foods available for pets on the internet and other sources. However, pet owners should be aware of the facts if they are considering an alternative food for their pets:

A - there is no scientific data to support beliefs commonly held by raw food supporters (bones and raw food); that feeding raw is "better" for your pet.

B - some raw food recipes contain excessive or insufficient levels of protein, calcium, and phosphorus.

C - raw foods pose a potential hazard for food poisoning and bacterial (salmonella) contamination for both humans and animals. Pets eating raw food can become carriers of these deadly bacteria and can accidentally transmit them to children, the elderly, or any person with a poor immune system, sometimes with very seriosu consequences.

D - in one study 90% of homemade diets were found to be nutritionally unbalanced.

E - bones can cause intestinal blockage and fractured teeth

Cost - A lot of people believe that veterinary diets are more expensive than pet store foods. This is often not the case. Ask us about cost per day and feeding amounts. Many of our diets are comporable to and in some cases cheaper than pet store diets.

Prescription Diets - We may recommend a specific veterinary diet for your pet depending on their medical diagnosis (i.e. pancreatitis, lower urinary tract disease.) In these cases please strictly follow your veterinarian's diet recommendations. Do not be tempted by pet store or grocery store brands that claim to do what a veterinary prescription diet can do. Since there is no policing of pet store foods in Canada, often these diets have not had any feeding trials done to prove that they do what they claim.

Why are Royal Canin Veterinary diets our number one recommendation?

We have made Royal Canin Veterinary diets our number one recommendation for a number of reasons.

  • All Royal Canin Veterinary diets have undergone feeding trials

  • Ingredients are of excellent quality

  • Safety standards are unsurpassed

  • All of their diets are manufactured at their plant in Guelph, Ontario and 60% of their ingredients are purchased from Canadian farms

  • Several of our staff have visited the Royal Canin plant to assure ourselves that Royal Canin Veterinary dits are produced with pristine quality control measures and with outstanding science based nutritional content.

We were very happy with the dedication the Royal Canin Veterinary diet team demonstrated in fulfilling our requirements and since this visit have used Royal Canin as our trusted primary veterinary diet provider.

We believe that proper nutrition for your pet from their baby to their senior years is of vital importance. We know you want to provide superior nutrition for your pet, and encourage you to ask an of our team members if you have questions regarding diet.

Please let us help you keep your pet healthy and happy!

"Let food be your first medicine" - Hippocrates

Dental Care Guidelines

Contrary to popular belief, “doggy breath” is not normal. If your pet’s bad breath keeps the two of you from snuggling or you wish you could give your pet a mint, it could be the first sign that he has dental disease, a painful condition caused by bacteria infecting his gums and teeth. What’s even worse, it can lead to serious health issues as infection spreads throughout the body.

Since maintaining oral hygiene is crucial to keeping cats and dogs healthy and happy, AAHA created dental care guidelines to help your veterinarian provide top-notch care. Here are the top 10 things you need to know about these guidelines:

  1. Dental disease begins early in life. Small dogs can begin to develop dental disease as early as nine months old. By the time they’ve reached their third birthday, most dogs begin showing signs of dental disease, such as bad breath, yellow tartar buildup on the teeth, and red, swollen gums. Left untreated, throbbing pain and inflammation can cause pets to drop food, drool excessively, paw at their mouths, or become reactive to petting. But, because most dogs and cats are experts at hiding pain, many suffer in silence.

  2. Early detection is key. As a part of your pet’s annual veterinary checkup, we recommend dental evaluations at least once a year when your small breed dog reaches one year old, or when your large breed dog turns two.

  3. “X-ray vision” is essential for diagnosing dental disease. After examining dental radiographs (X-ray images) of cats and dogs with teeth that appeared normal to the naked eye, veterinarians found 27.8% of dogs and 41.7% of cats had diseased teeth. In pets with abnormal-looking teeth, veterinarians found additional diseased teeth in 50% of dogs and 53% of cats.

  4. Anesthesia makes dental evaluation and treatment safer and less stressful for your pet. Animals don’t like to hold still while their teeth are cleaned. Anesthetized dental cleanings allow veterinarians to make a more accurate diagnosis and decrease the chance of complications, like inhaling water or bacteria produced during the cleaning.

  5. Anesthesia is much safer than you think. Our protocols include steps to increase the safety of anesthesia, even in older pets. For example, one trained professional is dedicated to continuously monitoring, recording vital signs, and communicating the findings to the veterinarian. Before anesthesia, your pet will also be carefully screened with bloodwork and other tests to ensure he is free from underlying disease.

  6. Removing plaque from teeth beneath the gums is vital. In fact, it’s even more important than scaling the portion of the teeth we can see. Bacteria thrive under the gumline, causing infections deep in the tooth root and jaw that can spread throughout the body and affect other organs, such as the heart or kidneys.

  7. There are many similarities between human and veterinary dentistry. Licensed veterinarians and credentialed technicians use sharp, sterilized instruments, just like those you see in your dentist’s office. Board-certified veterinary dentists go through extensive residency training to perform advanced procedures like root canals, tooth extractions, and crowns. You might even feel the same sense of guilt when your veterinarian asks, “How often do you brush his teeth?” as when you’re asked, “How often do you floss?”.

  8. We will create a personalized pain protocol to keep your pet comfortable. Although your dog or cat will be anesthetized during a tooth extraction, numbing medications will decrease the amount of general anesthetic needed and can last up to eight hours after the procedure, allowing your pet to rest in comfort. Your veterinarian can tailor your pet’s prescription pain medication to match the procedure so he’ll recover peacefully at home.

  9. Don’t forget to brush! Brushing your cat or dog’s teeth every day will promote good oral health and prevent potentially expensive surgeries down the line. It’s easier than you think: There are even special pet toothpastes flavored like beef, chicken, fish, and peanut butter. (Note: Never use human toothpaste, which can contain ingredients like xylitol that are toxic to animals.)

  10. Consider using other dental products if brushing isn’t an option. Oral rinses, gels, sprays, water additives, and chews can help with your pet’s dental hygiene. Be sure to look for the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal of approval on all pet dental products, and be wary of any dental chew that doesn’t bend or break easily as these can fracture teeth.